“By mailing applications, we have ensured that no Michigander has to choose between their health and their right to vote,” Benson said in a press release. “Voting by mail is easy, convenient, safe, and secure, and every voter in Michigan has the right to do it.”
According to the Secretary of State, of the 7.7 million registered voters in the state, about 1.3 million are on the permanent absent voter list, and their local election clerk mails them applications ahead of every election. Additionally, some jurisdictions are mailing applications to all local registered voters. The Michigan Department of State’s Bureau of Elections has ensured all remaining registered voters receive an application.
“We appreciate that some clerks are proactively protecting public health by mailing applications to all their registered voters, and we are fulfilling our responsibility to provide all voters equal access,” Benson said. “We know from the elections that took place this month that during the pandemic Michiganders want to safely vote.”
Record-breaking turnout was recorded in the approximately 50 elections held across 33 counties on May 5, with nearly 25% of eligible voters casting ballots and 99% of them doing so by mail or in a drop box. The Secretary of State said that from 2010 to 2019, average turnout in local elections in May was 12%.
The results reinforced the idea that citizens are comfortable with this process, said Ottawa County Clerk Justin Roebuck. Officials in the county mailed out absentee applications to registered voters prior to the state decision.
"I'm really pleased that the state took our lead on this and decided this is important for all Michigan voters," Roebuck said. "Giving the opportunity to send these out at an early date allows clerks to plan ahead for what's to come."
President Trump has railed against voting by mail, arguing a potential for widespread voter fraud. Roebuck, a Republican clerk, said there is no merit to the claim.
"Absentee balloting is nothing new in Michigan, and we have the tools in place to effectively and securely run this election," he said. "Our local clerks have done this thousands and thousands of times."
The application mailing from the Bureau of Elections includes a cover letter with instructions. Once a voter signs their application, they can mail it or email a photo of it to their local clerk, whose contact information is included on the application. The application is also available for download at michigan.gov/vote.
Voters can also register and join the permanent absent voter list so they always have the option to vote by mail.
“The vast majority of voters across the political spectrum want the option to vote by mail,” said Benson. “Mailing applications to all registered voters is one of the ways that we are ensuring Michigan’s elections will continue to be safe, accurate and secure.”
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